While the rest of the New York Yankees rotation seems to constantly be auditioning to remain part of the starting five, the team’s ace – CC Sabathia – is once again throwing his name among those expected to contend for the Cy Young Award. After a typical slow April, Sabathia has strung together four straight starts of at least 8 innings and has lowered his ERA to 3.51 (down from 5.59 on April 17th). At 5 – 0, he has become the stabilizing force among New York Yankees starting pitchers.
With a dazzling performance last night in which he struck out 10, walked one and yielded seven hits against the first place Tampa Bay Rays, CC Sabathia showed why he is the foundation of the rotation.
In baseball terms, the “ace” of the staff is the pitcher the team counts on the most. He is the guy they most often use when going up against the best the opponent has to offer. An ace’s role is that of streak-extender – if the team is running off a series of wins, or streak-ender – if the club has hit a rut in its season. With one good start an ace can turn around an entire week, establishing psychological momentum regardless of the level of an opponent.
CC Sabathia is the New York Yankees undisputed ace.
Over his first three seasons with the Yankees, Sabathia has won 59 games and holds a 3.20 ERA with an impressive 1.18 WHIP. Even more astounding is the fact that CC Sabathia has started at least 30 games in 11 of his 12 MLB seasons (in 2006 he started 28), and has thrown for more than 230 innings every year since 2007. For the New York Yankees that means the team can depend on their workhorse every fifth day, and when he takes the mound the bullpen usually gets a much needed day of rest.
With this new season under way, it is time to begin considering CC Sabathia among the greatest New York Yankees starting pitchers. To give you an idea of where Sabathia rates in Bombers’ history, Yankee great – and member of the Hall of Fame – Whitey Ford had five consecutive seasons with at least 230 innings pitched (Sabathia currently sitting on 5), and he never had three consecutive seasons with at least 19 wins (which the current Yankee ace has, and may be building on).
It will be interesting when all is said and done, to see just where CC Sabathia sits in the storied pantheon of New York Yankees history.
In the meantime, we can all appreciate having an ace that doesn’t require a day off, or feign injury to play a round of golf. We just have a wonderful southpaw who, without any fanfare, gives us the excellence we demand every fifth day of the week.